| Family Reflections |

Young at Heart

Sometimes we let our inner child take over



ou call to settle the matter right at eight a.m., their opening time. You want to beat waiting on line. Nonetheless, you’re greeted by a recording: “Thank you for calling. We are currently experiencing a heavy volume of calls. Please stay on the line….” This is followed by some loud music you can’t mute.

You’re busy and don’t have time for this. It’s only 8:02 and your blood pressure is rising.

“Mommy, there’s no milk left!”

“Mommy! He’s calling me ‘beaver.’ Mommy, make him stop!”

“Ma, did you see my blue eraser? I left it on the table last night. Ma? Did you see it?

“Ma, my teacher needs….”

The annoying music is still pouring out from your phone as you turn to the kids and say, “I’m currently experiencing a heavy volume of calls. Please wait.” Then you start singing a very annoying song as you turn your back and start washing the dishes.

Your kids aren’t impressed with your little “wait time” speech. They have as much trouble waiting as you do. Or perhaps it’s more that you have as much trouble waiting as they do. Sometimes we don’t notice that we have more in common with children than we might have thought. And when we have our little meltdown about long wait times, our inner child is making herself heard loud and clear.


Did We Grow Up Yet?

“Birthdays are really important to me,” says one mother. “I make a huge deal over every birthday in the family. I really go all out, and I know they all love it. So you can imagine how disappointed I was when my 22-year-old daughter (who still lives at home) barely acknowledged my birthday this year. She got me a dollar-store card and told me she was so busy she didn’t have time to order my gift, but that she was on it.

“That was three months ago.

“I do EVERYTHING for that girl, and she can’t do this one little act of kindness and appreciation for me? Well, yesterday I got fed up waiting, and I really let her have it. I told her that she was mean and selfish and that she really hurt my feelings. She became very defensive and started saying I don’t understand her life at all, and I have no respect for her, so of course I started screaming that she’s the one who’s supposed to respect ME and that she was a spoiled brat.... Then I walked out and slammed the door on her. Kids today! I would never have behaved like this with my mother!”

Yes, kids can behave with insensitivity and immaturity. When they do, it can bring out the insensitive and immature side of their parents. When mother and daughter sound like two badly behaving siblings going head to head, both are driven by equally young ego states. A 22-year-old-woman and her 45-year-old mother should be having a very different sounding conversation about their relationship.

Everyone has child ego states; while we have to tend to them (self-soothe by listening in, providing validation, and comfort), we cannot allow them to raise (educate, correct) our biological children.


Want It, Need It

“But EVERYONE has one! I’m the only one in the class who doesn’t have one! I feel like such a loser. You have to get me one. I won’t have any friends. Everyone thinks I’m weird because I don’t have one. You HAVE to get it for me!”

Children sound so desperate when they want that special thing that everyone but them has. Closer investigation usually reveals that less than half the class actually has it (whatever “it” happens to be), but that’s not the point. The child is interested in the 50 percent that has it and wants to penetrate that group. It seems his parents are holding him back from social acceptance.

And don’t we adults sometimes feel the same way? Everyone has “it” — the house, the car, the next child, the vacation... whatever “it” is, we want it, too. We feel less-than without it, and sometimes we even feel that it’s our spouse who is holding us back by refusing to spend money on “it.” It’s not only our kids who are childishly demanding things outside of the budget in order to fit in — we often do the same.

Parents and children have a lot in common. It’s good to keep this in mind when guiding our kids.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 851)

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